IT Sustainability Think Tank: Collaboration is key for CIOs to reach their company’s green IT goals

It takes a village to build a credible and robust IT sustainability strategy, so who should enterprise leaders be collaborating with to make their organisation’s green IT goals a reality?

Collaboration and partnerships are increasingly seen as essential for advancing the systemic issues at the forefront of the sustainability agenda and achieving a company’s environmental, social and governance (ESG) goals.

IT can play a vital role in this endeavour. Particularly when it comes to information-sharing, IT plays a critical role in supporting collaboration efforts and helping put an effective ESG strategy into practice.

Enterprises should look to the circular economy – with IT as enabler – as a vital part of the solution to address climate change and sustainability challenges, in order to meet ESG goals and seize new growth possibilities.

Achieving a circular economy goes far beyond recycling. It necessitates fundamental adjustments to the way IT resources are sourced, as well as having an impact on how infrastructure or services are created, manufactured, marketed, consumed, recycled and disposed of. To achieve ESG goals, a working circular economy needs partnerships and collaboration.

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 17 – Partnerships for the goals, could provide guidance in this regard, focusing on developing inclusive partnerships, built upon principles and values of ESG and a circular economy, and upon a shared vision and shared goals placing people and the planet at the centre.

And while some enterprises may have taken tentative steps in the past towards “greening up” their IT operations, others might be just starting out or might be in need of some help and advice on how to go further and achieve their goals faster than before.

In which case, who should they turn to for advice and how can they ensure that the support they receive is credible and does not stray into “greenwashing” territory?

CIOs can play a key role in the development of innovative technological offerings, services and IT/digital infrastructure, as well as the development of critical data platforms that will support an ESG plan.

Collaboration and partnerships are imperative to progress an enterprise’s ESG goals faster than working alone. IT will help to bring these ideas together, harmonising internal and external stakeholders to aid the achievement of ESG goals.

IT and technology could pave the way in fostering collaboration and executing ESG strategy. In this endeavour, the sustainability performance of the IT and digital infrastructure and services itself has to be improved.

Integral role for CIOs

CIOs will play an integral role in driving an organistion’s adoption of ESG goals, to monitor and report progress to both internal and external stakeholders throughout the supply chain, and this will depend on deploying the appropriate technologies and practices.

Also, an in-depth understanding of the enterprise’s ESG strategy and goals and circular economy will provide guidance in shaping the role that the CIO can play in this regard. Improving the material and energy efficiency of the processes and IT infrastructure as a whole is an important step.

IT can support the enterprise’s renewable energy adoption across the organisation and influence supply chain as well, supporting efforts to track, monitor, measure and reduce the enterprise’s scope one, two and three emissions, driving accountability.

Developing deep and meaningful partnerships and seeking opportunities to collaborate can help to implement circular economy practices, continually exploring ways to reduce e-waste, improve re-use and extend life of resources and refurbishment efforts.

CIOs closely working with sourcing, procurement and purchasing is vital to ensure these are in line with the overall ESG strategy of the enterprise. ESG should form a key part of the assessment criteria for selecting suppliers and service providers to work with, thus positively influencing the supply chain.

To ensure the success of their ESG programmes, enterprises should make their sustainability objectives clear to all divisions within the organisation and prioritise these initiatives for both internal stakeholders and external partners. End-users should be kept abreast of the vision and execution to ensure adoption and drive accountability across all layers.

Enterprises need to refocus on value creation that adds environmental sustainability, ESG objectives, employee and end-user participation, internal collaboration, particularly in terms of IT and business strategy, and IT procurement to financial imperatives as metrics of success.

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